Because of it’s ties to mob activities a couple of hours away in the “City of Broad Shoulder”, Chicago, Illinois, during the 1920’s and 1930’s, my hometown of Muncie, Indiana, came to be known as “Little Chicago”. Here is a personal pizza recipe, based on the traditional Chicago deep-dish style with a twist of Appalachia (cast-iron skillet). DO try this at home!
Muncie (Little Chicago) Style Pizza
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, softened
- 1/2 pound fresh pizza dough, at room temperature (see directions below)
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh garlic
- 1 teaspoon chopped fresh basil
- 1 teaspoon chopped fresh oregano
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 1 tablespoon dry red wine
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1/2 pound crumbled hot Italian sausage
- 4 ounces pepperoni, thinly sliced
- 4 ounces mushrooms, wiped clean and thinly sliced
- 1 green bell pepper, cored and cut into thin rings
- 1 small yellow onion, cut into thin rings
- 1/4 cup thinly sliced black olives
- 5 ounces mozzarella, thinly sliced
- 3/4 cups crushed and strained Roma tomatoes
- 1/4 cup grated Parmesan
Preheat the oven to 475 degrees F.
Heat a skillet over medium-high heat with 2 tablespoons olive oil.
Cook the crumbled sausage until brown on each side, 8 to 10 minutes.
Add the garlic and cook, stirring, for 30 seconds.
Add the herbs, salt, black and red peppers, and cook, stirring, for 30 seconds.
Add the tomatoes, wine and sugar, and bring to a boil.
Lower the heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, until thickened, 20 to 30 minutes.
Remove from the heat and let cool completely before using.
Grease the inside of a 12-inch cast-iron skillet with the butter.
Place the pizza dough in the center and spread evenly towards the bottom edge and 1 1/2 inches up the sides.
Place the skillet onto the lower rack of the oven until the pizza dough begins to rise, about 5 minutes, and remove.
Ladle the sauce evenly over the dough.
Layer the mozzarella cheese over the pie.
Top with the pepperoni, mushrooms, bell pepper rings, onions and black olives.
Finish with the Parmesan and drizzle with the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil.
Bake the pizza at 475 for 15 minutes.
Lower the temperature to 400ºF and bake the pizza an additional 10 to 20 minutes until the crust is golden brown, and areas of browned cheese start to poke up through the sauce.
Remove and let cool 5 minutes before serving.
Note: For best results, make sure that the cast iron skillet has been properly treated beforehand.
Chicago-style Deep Dish Pizza Dough
What You Need –
- 1 cup warm water
- 1 (1/4 ounce) package yeast
- 3/4 cup cornmeal
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 2 tablespoons butter (melted)
- 2 1/2 cups flour
What You Do –
One secret is getting the cornmeal ground up fine enough so that you don’t have a grainy texture to the crust. To do this, take 3/4 cup corn meal and grind it up in a coffee grinder and grind it as fine as is possible. Then take the ground corn meal and sift it into a large bowl.
Another secret is to get the cornmeal dissolved as well as possible (again, to prevent the grainy crust.) To do this, put the warm water in the bowl with the corn meal, and add the yeast, salt, sugar, olive oil, and melted butter. Using a whisk, stir the mixture for 10 minutes.
Add one cup of flour to the bowl and use wooden spoon or spatula to mix it up well. Add the remaining flour 1/4 cup at a time until you can handle and kneed the dough without it sticking to your hands. You may not need the whole 2 1/2 cups of flour, or you may need a little more. You will have to use your judgment. Just remember not to let the dough get too hard, or to have it too soft as it will stick to your fingers.
Take the dough out of the bowl and kneed it by hand on a countertop. If you have made the dough correctly you will not have to put any flour down, or you will only need a minimal amount. Kneed the dough for 3 to 5 minutes.
Oil the inside of your bowl. Place the dough ball into the bowl and cover with a warm damp towel. Let the dough rise until doubled in size. This might take anywhere from 1/2 to 1 1/2 hours.
After the dough has risen, punch down the dough into a ball. Place the ball of dough on the counter and flatten it with your hand. Then use a rolling pin to roll the dough into a uniform circle 1/4 inch thick.